It was during the mid-session break in the Wednesday morning knock-out game at the Buffalo Spooktacular Regional Tournament that the director came to our table to break the bad news. Our fifth player, who was supposed to fill in on our team on Thursday, would be ineligible. She was playing in the pairs event Wednesday at the same time we were playing in the knock-outs. Not allowed.
That would be a good problem to have, we told the director. At that point we had played 12 hands against a couple from Halifax, Nova Scotia (teamed at the last minute with a couple women from Rochester), and we were down more than 30 International Match Points. Could we make it up in the next 12 hands? Our opponents did that to us on Tuesday and knocked us out. This time, however, it was not meant to be. In the first group of six boards, a veritable festival of small contracts and part scores, we prevailed by a margin of 2 IMPs to 1. In the second group of six, we sank even deeper into defeat.
So it was back to the side game in the afternoon. Open pairs with the 299ers mixed in because there weren’t enough of them for a separate section. That obliged the directors to recalibrate the stratifications. Joe Miranda and I, who started out in the B start, were put in with the big guys in A.
Not that it should matter. A good score is a good score and I felt we were on our way to one. Joe and I finally seemed to be perfectly attuned, at least until the last couple rounds. I was shocked that the score didn’t reflect my good feelings. We wound up tied for fifth out of nine pairs East-West with a 47.92% score, suppressed by two bottom boards in our final round.
We would have had to beat 51.62% to win red points. Take away our three worst hands – those two bottom boards and an ill-fated 5 Clubs doubled vulnerable contract that Joe should have shifted back to my original bid of Diamonds – and we’d be 10 match points better, good enough to finish third and earn 1.11 red. Well, there’s always tomorrow.